Bringing joy one phone call at a time
By Darren Lum
An easy smile washes over Bill Gliddon’s face as he sits on his porch, talking about the musical interludes he offers over the phone to residents at long-term care facilities in Haliburton.
Bringing happiness and joy through music is something he’s been doing for decades, through his church, as a teacher and as a volunteer.
During this health crisis, which has gripped the world and the community he loves, the 80-year-old has been bringing happiness and joy to residents isolated at Highland Wood and Extendicare-Haliburton.
The past Highlander of the Year says playing his keyboard and singing songs such as Zip-A-Dee-Do-Da from the 1940s and Let Me Call You Sweetheart from the 1930s on the phone has as much benefit for him as it does for those he sings to.
“They’re just so cheered up. Of course it cheers me up too. I love it. Just do a couple. I don’t go too long. This is something I look forward to now,” he said.
He performs every other day, calling residents in their rooms.
Before visitation was suspended due to COVID-19, Gliddon said he visited the senior homes with a small group of people once a month.
Gliddon said he got the idea to perform on the phone to residents at Extendicare-Haliburton and to Highland Wood from his friend Fred Shuttleworth, who he knows from choir. His friend, he said, is a concert pianist and was performing classical music for the people he phoned.
“What a great idea. I’m going to do that with the songs,” Gliddon said.
It’s been close to two weeks since he started and through word-of-mouth, his list of song recipients has grown.
“It’s probably 10 to a dozen and it keeps getting [to be] more,” he said. “They tell their friends and then they phone me and say, ‘Can you sing to so-and-so?’”
Using his musical talents isn’t new for Gliddon, who is well known for performing at local churches and staged plays over the years and for his time as a music teacher in his hometown.
Even during this crisis, he has continued to host his own radio show on Canoe FM once a week and plays the organ for St. George’s Anglican Church in Haliburton (now for online services), which he has done for close to 58 years.
Gliddon hopes his connection with long-term care residents inspires others to share their musical talents with people who are in isolation at their residence.
“Music, I tell you, it does something that words alone cannot do and especially for older people if it’s the songs they knew when they were younger. It just brings back all those happy memories,” he said.
With files from Chad Ingram